Posted by: Mad Ness Monster | 10/14/2009

The Land of Bargain Halloween Costumes

(10/20/05; new material added 10/14/09)

Holiday Squash!

Holiday Greetings from Chazkowski the Happy Halloween Acorn Squash!  (Shop ‘N’ Drop was out of pumpkins one year, and ever since then he has become something of a Clan Mad-Ness tradition.)

Honestly, I’d rather see a kid bothering me for free candy wearing a stupid costume than no costume at all; and there are a LOT of kids in my neighborhood who don’t bother to wear costumes. This is why I always have at least one bag of Smarties or Good-n-Plenties or Necco Wafers handy. Spread the word, kids. You come to my house with no costume, you get punished with crappy candy. Sorry but that’s the way the cookie crime crumbles ’round here.
So let me repeat once again just so that we’re clear: Crappy Costume > No Costume.
That’s going to be something of a reoccurring theme today. The other reoccurring theme is that there is no way of telling which characters are going to click with people. This is important because the rights to create costumes of a character are almost instantly snapped up once it is decided that said characters might appeal to kids. Once in a while, you’re lucky and you end up with a “Pokemon”. More often than not, however, you end up with a “VanHelsing”.
This line of thinking results in costumes such as the ones you see before you. I have to say that I feel incredibly sad for the children modeling them.

Titan Catman

I apologize for the formatting snafus in most of these pictures. All of these costumes were found (surprise, surprise) at bargain stores. Interestingly, average cost of these costumes was around five dollars. That’s a bit much for a cheap laugh, so I had to go all secret agent with the Digi-Cam. (That is to say that I was rather blatantly snapping photos of these things in front of confused stock-people.)
The first costume takes us back in time to a magical realm where Don Bluth was just about to release a movie that wouldn’t suck and, more importantly, wouldn’t embarrass his fanbase. (“Thumbelina” hurt. Lots.) I suppose it takes a certain kind of courage for a lass to choose to embody Drew Barrymore’s “Titan A.E.” heroine.
But the costume on the right is just wholly inexplicable. Here’s a better look:


What do you say to a child dressed like that? Honestly. And the craziest thing is that the Lion costume appears to be wearing a costume! The boy is dressed like a character who is dressed like another character.

Goliath's pretty cool but...

You know, that could be our third reoccurring theme of the night: What do you say to the kid dressed as an unpopular character? Kids tend to take quite a bit of pride in their costumes (when they bother to wear one) and all the adults in the neighborhood sure as heck better be able to identify who they are or they’ll be royally upset.
I happen to feel a special sort of bond with the unpopular Disney characters. Honestly, that Goliath costume is pretty rad and I don’t feel *too* too sad for the kid dressed as Clean-Shaven Blond Hercules (With Freakish Nipples). But I pity the poor kid dressed as Pocahontas’ Boring Fiance Who Dies About Forty Minutes In.
You’re impressed I remembered who Kokoum was, admit it.


As you see here, the costumes based upon popular Disney characters don’t fare much better.  You’ll just have to take it on good faith that the character on the left is Jack Sparrow (it works better as a generic pirate costume).  I’ve also got two generic costumes that I suppose are meant to be Disney characters without infringing on that pesky ol’ Copyright.  Not-Dory is freakin’ amazing.

Not the One

If you want a gold mine for costumes that are clearly meant to be a popular character without actually being said character because they don’t have those pesky rights to said character, look no further than sewing pattern catalogs.  The trick is to somehow capture the essence of Neo in his man-dress from “Reloaded” without ever insinuating that this is meant to be a replica of Neo’s man-dress.  Also, “Believer” is a movie and it exists.  This example isn’t particularly funny, it’s just random…

Why so terrifying?

… But this guy is epic.
I love how they managed to get across the idea that this is supposed to be the Joker in “The Dark Knight” without resembling the Joker at all! It actually looks like what would happen if the Phantom of the Paradise and Dee Snyder and Dr. Frankenfruter and Prince could all have a baby together.  Somehow.  And yet, I know immediately that it’s supposed to be the Joker.  It’s actually kind of impressive.


NESS: “Oh, cool, it’s Trini the Yellow Ranger!”
LITTLE GIRL: (Stomps her feet and is on the verge of a tantrum – because this has been happening *all night long*!) “I am NOT the Yellow Ranger!”
NESS: (Equally alarmed at upsetting a small child as she is to encounter a kids’ show she’s never heard of.) “Oh! I’m sorry. Then who are you?”
GIRL: “*snif* I’m Deirdre!”
NESS: (Blank stare.)
GIRL: “I’m the Mystic Knight of the Air Clan!”
NESS: (Blank stare volume two.)
GIRL: “From ‘Turr nah Nogg’!”
NESS: (Who, just a reminder, is Irish and now seriously needs to bang her head against the nearest wall) “Oh… (reflexive) That’s ‘Tier na-Knowj’.”
GIRL: “Just gimme the candy.”


This is a more recent costume with the same problems as Dierdre.  I have no idea who this character is.  They could call this costume Generic Shonen Hero Character and it’d make just as much sense.  More so, frankly.


If you are female and you enjoy Halloween, then you already know how depressingly accurate this old Onion Statshot still is  (Addendum for 2010: and so help me, somebody went and made a real life, not satire Sexy Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Costume).  The silliest I saw in this display was the Sexy House:


And not only is this a Sexy House, it’s also an example of the depressingly popular “pun costumes” that have sprung up recently.

Old-school dog costumes

Another depressing trend in Halloween costumes is the sudden mainstream popularity of costumes for animals.  It used to be that if you wanted to dress up your dog, you had to sew the costume your own damn self.
There’s also a deep dip in quality between hand-made costumes for dogs and mass-produced ones.  See, this (naughty language warning) is what a typical dog costume looks like. The dog’s front legs (anyone with even a glancing familiarity with comparative vertebrate anatomy knows that those are your dog’s arms) become the costume character’s back legs. And the costume includes floppy little arms that come to rest on your dog’s shoulders. Some of these costumes require masks.  But since dogs can’t wear masks, the costume character’s entire head sits on top of a little hat or something. The effect is often like a weird dog-centaur with two heads.  So you can dress your dog like a weird two-headed dog-centaur Elvis, a weird dog-centaur Dorothy, a weird two-headed dog-centaur Spider-Man, a weird dog-centaur priest…


Wait… WHAT?!?


Enough has been said about “Transformers: Rollin’ On The Floor”Michael Bay Learns How to Add and Subtract” that I feel like making fun of this costume is shooting fish in a barrel.  Yet, there’s something compelling about this (alleged) Megatron costume.  You could just add a big freakin’ mace and go as Sauron.  Instantly, you’ve changed from the villain of an unspeakably terrible movie to the villain of a totally radical movie.
(Yes, I am trying to bring the phrase “totally radical” back.)


I have nothing to add to this except that it is actually really cute.


Among the more recent costumes in this feature, this catalog page is the big winner.  I have no idea WTF I’m looking at here.  If these are meant to be characters from something popular with the kids, I wouldn’t be able to tell you.  Now, these costumes are kind of cool in a generic Steampunk-Otaku way, but do you really want to be that one person at the Halloween party who constantly has to explain who/what you are?  I’ve been there during a few Halloween parties.  In big awkward homebrew costumes that I worked my ass off to make, yet.
It is not a fun place to be. 😦
But this brings us to the two Worst Costumes EVER. They are still the worst costumes I have ever found and I am going to post them without comment. Their photos are actually decent as I actually had to buy both of them. They are just too horribly, tragically funny. (The one on the right actually had the following message on it’s $2.00 price tag: “Go ahead. Humor us.”)

Moo Mesa! I feel bad for this kid.

Gives new meaning to “Cowboy Up”… which was always inexplicable anyway.

Halloween Linkage Pour Vous:
RetroCrush’s Giant Gallery of Strange Old Halloween Costumes: I still think the “Wild Wild West” costume wins. But if we live on a planet where there can be a Gabe Kaplan costume, then it’s like all bets are officially off.
Halloween SWAT: From Something Awful (naughty language warning).  Make sure you don’t miss the sequel, the other sequel, and the OTHER other sequel!
Funniest Halloween Knockoff Costumes: From The Huffington Post which also has a terrific gallery of “sexy whatever” costumes that should not be.  Seems “The Matrix” is popular as a target of copyright infringing costumes. (OK, I can put on my coat and wear sunglasses and most people will get the idea, but still.)
The Virtual Toy Chest’s “Moo Mesa” Gallery: Seeing as I’ve got my Bachelor’s degree in commercial art, I can tell when a fellow illustrator just says, in their drawing, “aw, screw it!”  In this case, though, I think someone else came up with the “C.O.W. Boys of Moo Mesa” during the post-Ninja Turtles “lets make every animal into an anthropomorphic superhero” trend, and the artist just had to draw the “C.O.W. Boys”.  Because it looks like (s)he is saying, in the artwork for these toys, “screw you.”.  You will understand why I mention this when you take a look at these characters. (And unless you like horrible puns, do not read the text on the packages.  But the questions they raise!  Oh, the questions!  Shouldn’t Geronimoo be a bison too?  Why is the scorpion-guy the same size as all the bovines?  What the hell kind of Civil War were these man-beasts fighting?!? )



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